Our favorite thing about Birmingham’s food scene: There’s almost always a local answer to chain options. What’s more, the local answer’s almost always better. A case in point is Fat Sam’s Sub Station, a Five Points South neighborhood staple.
One part Waffle House, one part Jimmy John’s, and all Five Point’s, Fat Sam’s offers high quality comfort food perfect for time-pressed, cash-strapped college students and everyone else.
Its section of five points is distinctively utilitarian, after all, designed to serve the UAB district and its neighbors to the south. There’s a computer repair shop and a laundromat in the same block, a hair salon and package store in the same strip. So it’s no wonder that Fat Sam’s ambience is a serviceable one.
But what’s so special about Fat Sam’s? There are fresh-cut French fries with a hint of skin for extra crispiness, and a 99-cent chicken biscuit on the breakfast menu. There are hoagies you can barely wrap your mouth around, smothered in Russian dressing. It’s not fancy, but it’s fast and delicious and far better than cold cuts have any right to be.
We’ve said this before, but it bears repeating. Five Points is a neighborhood of long-standing establishments, and Fat Sam’s is no exception. They’ve been open for a quarter century, and we expect at least that much more.
Great neighborhoods, after all, hold onto small businesses like so many beloved family members. And that’s the way of it with Five Points South. The problem, though, is that you almost have to be part of the family tree to keep track of its many member branches.
With quick shifts between single and multi-family homes, the ramshackle and the sleekly renovated, the purely residential and the pockets of commercial, you almost have to live in Five Points to be truly in the know. It’s not a neighborhood for everyone, but–like Fat Sam’s–it tends to welcome everyone. And it just might be the neighborhood for you.